The liver which is located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen below the diaphragm is the body’s largest internal organ. It serves a lot of functions like the production of bile, absorption, and metabolism of bilirubin, carbohydrate metabolism, as well as fat metabolism. The liver is chief in supporting blood clot, minerals, and vitamin storage. It filters the blood, metabolism of protein, angiotensinogen synthesis, immunological function and production of albumins. This is the only organ capable of regeneration, and one cannot live without a liver. As the functions are numerous so are the problems.
When these problems occur, the person tends to show major signs and symptoms of jaundice (yellow discoloration of the skin, sclera and mucous membrane), itchy skin, edema of ankle and feet. Individuals can also observe abdominal pain and swelling, dark colored urine, chronic tiredness, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, the tendency of easy bruising, change in color of stool. Liver failure is an extremely serious illness as it is a silent killer and treatment should be received as soon as possible.
There are two forms of liver failure, the acute one which strikes fast, (It has a course of weeks to months), sometimes even without symptoms. The chronic type that occurs more slowly has a course of months to years, and may also be asymptomatic. When the liver fails due to certain things we will talk about, the functions are impaired, and these are needed for day to day survival. So let us get to know causes so we can prevent them.
- Consumption of Excess Acetaminophen
Acetaminophen is an analgesic meaning a painkiller and an antipyretic meaning a fever reducer. Due to its functions, it is used for conditions that have to do with pain or fever, from the mild conditions to severe diseases. For instance, headaches, and also back pains which results from arthritis, but it has no anti-inflammatory effects, so it has nothing connected to redness and swelling of the joints in arthritis.
There is no problem taking this drug so long as you stick to recommendations. If a person even takes a single large dose, it can have a noticeable impact on the liver and its function which can lead to liver failure. Taking this over an extended period of time can cause big problems even enough to damage the liver resulting in the necessity of a Liver Transplant.
Hepatitis comes in many types; there are hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis E., this is an inflammatory condition caused primarily by a virus. There are also some secondary causes of hepatitis. Acute liver failure can occur, if Hepatitis A, B, and E are untreated, this is what they have in common.
- Genetic problems
Genetics plays an essential role in telling if a person will have developed any kind of issues with the liver. There is a possibility of having chronic or acute liver failure from the inheritance of just one abnormal gene from the parents. Liver diseases which are genetic and likely to lead to liver failure are hemochromatosis, oxalosis, hyperoxaluria, Wilson’s disease. Even cancers affecting the liver like hepatic cancer and bile duct cancer can be genetically caused.
- Recreational Drugs
It is often thought that many recreational drugs are illegal because of their effect to cause people to act in irrational, strange or dangerous ways. However, the truth and fact is that most of these recreational drugs are very dangerous and harmful to the body. It is usually always taken in excess which can lead to liver failure. Here are some of the drugs which lead to that, like heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine, and oxycontin.
- Herbal supplements
Many people tend to use natural remedies and herbal supplement to treat certain illnesses for their own comfort. In some cases, it can also be for the sake of convenience due to the fact that it is safe, with far lesser side effects than drugs prescribed by physicians, which is true. Like it is often said too much of everything is not good, therefore when consumed in excess can result in serious health issues. For instance, excess intake of ephedra, kava, and pennyroyal can cause liver failure. Use herbs wisely.
- Overdosing of Prescribed Medicines
Some of the prescribed medications if taken in excess can be very harmful and cause major damage to the liver resulting in acute liver failure. An antibiotic, for instance, is one of them, and it is a common drug used to treat different ailments, and patients of all ages take it. Other drugs that are very harmful in excess are drugs for the treatment of seizures and convulsions, even NSAIDs (Ibuprofen).
Some cases which result from liver disease can also lead to failure. For example liver cirrhosis which is a complication of liver disease that results in the loss of hepatocytes and scarring of the liver, if not managed well will lead to liver failure, which will require a transplant. Even diseases of the veins in the liver such as Budd-Chiari syndrome may lead to blocked veins resulting in acute liver failure.
- Fatty Liver Disease
This is associated with insulin resistance and obesity, sometimes, caused by a diet high in fructose sugar. In this case, there is an excess amount of fat vacuoles built up in the liver.
There are certain toxins which can lead to acute liver failure, for example, the poisonous wild mushroom Amanita phalloides which is often mistaken with the edible nonpoisonous mushroom. There are also other toxins which are not natural but chemicals found in industries. For instance, carbon tetrachloride which is an industrial chemical found in varnishes, refrigerants, solvents for waxes, and various materials which are also toxins that can lead to acute liver failure.
- Alcohol Abuse
Consumption of excessive amount of alcohol can lead to a wide range of health issues, not just liver damage. It can lead to obesity, damaging of the brain, intestines, and stomach, but liver is the most affected by alcohol because alcohol is processed in the liver once it is introduced in the body. After some time this destroys the liver and leaves it struggling with executing other functions, leading to liver failure and transplant.
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